Aug 30, 2010

In The Blink of an Eye

Teri and I were returning to Atlanta last week after saying "goodbye" to our youngest, Sharayah at a University up North.  Driving southbound on US Highway 29, just outside of Gretna, Virginia,  we encountered a pretty steady rain, and drove on cautiously. 

I noticed a truck coming up fast on my left in the fast lane, and I was struggling to see through the thick spray he was putting up as he went past - when I saw it - a red car, eerily turning end over end in our lane - as if in slow motion - twisting straight for us through the mist!

Both the truck and I braked hard, and veered to the right to pull over as the red car flipped it's fourth and final time and came crashing down on the guard rail.  It had been coming from the other direction (northbound), hydroplaned, lost control and veered right across the grassy median, launched into the air in a twisting motion as it hit the hard edge of the southbound lane.

The driver of the truck immediately got out  and raced to the red car - I put on my hazards to warn the traffic that was coming up behind me, and then drove cautiously around the truck to see if I could help.  The truck driver had helped a young woman out of the car, and she was kneeling in the hard rain on the asphalt as the trucker (he turned out to be an extremely capable EMT) held her there while he finished with his 911 call.

I opened up the side door of our van, and asked him if it was OK for him to let the frightened girl into our van and out of the rain.  He was glad to, and then proceeded to check her for any broken bones, and any other trauma.  It turned out that her airbags and seat belt probably saved her life - the car was totaled, and yet there wasn't a scratch on her.  The trucker said it was a miracle she wasn't hurt, and told the girl that "the good Lord was surely looking out for you today."  Teri consoled her, and we ended up praying with her after the trucker left to liaise with the Highway Patrol and the Ambulance.

It was sobering to discover that this young girl was also on her way up to start College, and she was only a year older than Sharayah.  It was a bit unnerving to see played out before our eyes just how fast things can go wrong.  But it was a huge blessing to be able to be there for someone in a time of crisis, to console, help her dry off, put a warm blanket over, and pray for her well-being and thank God for His protection - and thereby truly be reminded that God has His eye on our daughter as well, and therefore know that we can trust that He will provide the angels and/or people to be there in her moment of need when we can't be.

Aug 10, 2010

Imagination becomes Incarnate

Pass through, pass through the gates!
       Prepare the way for the people.
       Build up, build up the highway!
       Remove the stones.
       Raise a banner for the nations.

               - Isaiah 62:10

The artist sat listening to the message, but could sit no longer.  Compelled by the truth of the Scripture, and moved by the image that was bursting forth on his imagination, he positioned the blank canvas, took up the laden brush, and began to illuminate that which had been unseen.

And as the imagination became incarnate, the tapestry of ideas unfolding on the canvas, the Scriptural hope began to take shape - the work is enjoined, the rubble confronted, the path restored; all the while the "blueprint" of the future left shimmering just behind the current task, awaiting final fulfillment.

And the enemy, also hovering, lurking, waiting for an opportunity to "steal" the word of truth from the artisan - but he will not be dissuaded.  

Is was sheer joy to watch this painting come to life at our SALT conference this July in Rome, Italy.  There was much that came to light, as Arts Champions from all over Europe came together for a training, an envisioning, a sharpening, an empowering, and a validating experience that we in OM will feel the impact of for some time to come.

A story is told of an inquirer who visited a stone quarry, in order to plumb the hearts and minds of the workers there.  He asked one man, "What are you doing here"?  The man responded, "What does it look like?  I am hewing rocks out of this quarry."  The same question was put to a second, and he replied, "I am earning an honest day's wage."  A third worker was engaged with the same question, and he gave a response that revealed a panoramic understanding of what was really going on.  "What are you doing here?" came the question.  "I am building a cathedral!" came the reply, pregnant with hope, vision, and personal ownership.

And of such is the Kingdom of God.

Aug 1, 2010

"...sleeping in the basement..."

Here is a brilliant quote from Ian Morgan Cron, that I got from a wonderful German friend who got it from another dear South African friend:

"The church is realizing that there is an awareness of God sleeping in the basement of the postmodern imagination and they have to awaken it. The arts can do this. All beauty is subversive, it flies beneath the radar of people's critical filters and points them to God.  As a friend of mine says. 'when the front door of the intellect is shut, the back door of the imagination is open.'  Our neglect of the power of beauty and the arts helps explain why so many people have lost interest in the church. Our coming back to the arts will help renew this interest."

Taken from his book, "Chasing Francis", which sheds new light on the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, the above quote speaks prophetically to today's church about the critical role of beauty, the arts, and the imagination when it comes to influencing culture.  In his book, Cron masterfully weaves actual accounts from the life of Saint Francis' into the fictional story of Chase Falson, a New England minister on a pilgrimage to regain his faith. It's an amazing story with profound implications for the contemporary church.

The parallel between the way St. Francis influenced culture (an influence that is still felt today) and the way the arts influence culture, is the incarnational aspect to the way they communicate - by putting action, or form, embodiment or melody to His revelation.  The sooner the church begins to re-employ the God-given creativity He gave to man to illuminate His goodness and truth, the sooner the church can hope to reclaim the cultural megaphone.